The bride with the purple string around her head
was the child of a father who didn't care she wasn't
a son, that he never had a son, that his name ended
even after all fathers had carried it before. She wore
the purple string, that there would be a throne
of white wood inside a dark and balanced place,
the center of a house low to the ground
where air sweeps stone as it enters.
He thought she was a powerful child, not to be
a king, but full of song like air and water. She moved
through the right angles of city blocks
broken by post oaks and hydrangeas,
past the numbers of houses counted out
like money or time. She called him
by his first name, like a friend.
Since bad spirits travel in straight lines,
she took the purple inside her hair
like the curves off the sides of lightning
that branched as trees from limb
to limb, so that their dreams
might all be better.
The first line of "Purple String" came from eavesdropping on my oldest daughter playing one day after school, and the poem took off from there.